“Nothing in life is to be feared," said physicist Marie Curie. "It is only to be understood.” Far be it from me to argue with a two-time Nobel Prize winner, but clearly Curie never played golf.
Because there's nothing to be "understood" about standing on a tee box, overlooking a scenic fusion of nature and thinking, "Crap, I hope I don't put this in the drink." Or having your knees shake over a 20-foot birdie putt, not that you're worried about making it but that, deep down, you're afraid it will end in a three-jack. (Spoiler: You'll three-jack.)
Golf is filled with these agitations, likely one of the reasons why "Golf is a good walk spoiled" is less of a remark and more of a truth. And many of the game's terrors are universal. Here are a golfer's 13 worst fears:
Throwing your back out on the eve of annual golf trip
On the bright side, nothing is better for a bad back than sitting in a plane or car seat for multiple hours, dragging a set of luggage behind you and playing 90 holes over a three-day period.
Getting stuck behind the community center's women's 65-and-over league
Or worse, on the day they decide to hold their annual "Left-handed Club Wiffle Ball" tournament.
Forget the heart-rending sight of your ball violently rocketing from its resting place at a 45-degree angle. The shanks are terrifying because of the aftershock: After you've had one lateral run-in, an inescapable anxiety sets in that said shank will return, turning every iron and wedge shot into a panic attack. Good times!
The airlines losing your sticks
Imagine a babysitter losing a kid. Now multiply that by 14, and that's the despair that sets in when your clubs fail to emerge from baggage claim. (Note: I do not have kids.)
All those Shingo Katayama hats you bought will never come back in style
Um, speaking for a friend on this one.
Hitting a bad shot on the first tee or after a group waves you through
One of the game's biggest embarrassments, topped only by...
Duffing a drive in front of the cart girl
There was a 98 percent chance you weren't getting her number anyway, but that flubbed four-iron sealed the deal.
Shooting the round of your life without a witness
According to the USGA, if you didn't play with anyone, it didn't happen.
It's a beautiful Saturday, you have nowhere you have to be...and you can't get a tee time
And forget practicing, because the range is packed as well. I'm not saying it's as bad as getting lupus...I'm just not not saying it.
Your DVR fails to record The Masters while you're at your in-laws' Easter festivities
Couldn't Jesus have risen from the dead in May?
Missing a tap-in putt in front of the clubhouse veranda to lose the member-guest
The choke will haunt your dreams...but just in case you forget, your fellow members will only bring the instance up every chance they get.
Sun block/bug spray exploding and ruining everything in your bag
Hell hath no fury than sun lotion sticking to your grips and corroding your ball covers.